Monday, September 4, 2017

Roman Catholic Apologists And Circular Reasoning

  • Defining The Issues: 
          -Following are comments from a brief exchange with a Catholic apologist who goes by the name of De Maria on the issue of Sola Scriptura and defining the Trinity alongside with a critique of my own:

          "...that Sacred Tradition came before the New Testament. And this Sacred Tradition was passed down by Christ, through His Church. All you have for your side is denial of the truth (Matthew 28:16-20)."

          Nobody denies that the New Testament Scriptures were originally taught orally. That is not problematic for the folks who believe in the doctrine of Sola Scriptura, which states that Scripture alone is the only infallible spiritual standard for the Christian church to use.

          The problem here is that De Maria is unable to come up with a spiritual standard which judges the validity of "Sacred Tradition," apart from the say-so of the Bishop of Rome (circular reasoning). How does he know that the pope possesses the gift of infallibility?

          "On the contrary, the infallible authority of the Catholic Church is proven by Scripture. You can object all that you want, but Scripture doesn't advise us to go to Scripture alone to learn the Faith of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 13:7)..."

          In what manner does Scripture support the alleged infallible authority of the Catholic Church, apart from the interpretations of Scripture which Rome commands its members to use when questioned about their faith (circular reasoning)?

          How can we submit to leaders in God's church, if we do not have an established standard to judge the validity of their claims? Even Mormons could cite Hebrews 13:7 in telling us to submit to their leadership. 

          Even granting the premise that the Bible does not tell us to adhere to the Scriptures alone to learn the Faith of Jesus Christ, the principle of Sola Scriptura would still kick in by default because Scripture does not tell us to adhere to any other rule of faith as a means of testing doctrine. The only thing that the Bible calls "God-breathed" is itself (2 Timothy 3:16).

          "No, Jesse. The Teachings of Scripture reflect Apostolic Tradition. Apostolic Tradition came first. The New Testament was written based upon the Teachings of Jesus Christ. Not the other way around."

          How can we know with any degree of certainty which oral traditions are inspired (not because the "pope said so")?

          "No one said the relationship was supplementary. That is your straw man argument."

          Who is De Maria to affirm that the material sufficiency view is the *official* position of the Roman Catholic Church? Consider these excerpts from Catholic sources:

          “. . . the Church, to whom the transmission and interpretation of Revelation is entrusted, does not derive her certainty about all revealed truths from the Holy Scriptures alone. Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honored with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence.” (CCC # 82)

          "Now the Scriptures alone do not contain all the truths which a Christian is bound to believe, nor do they explicitly enjoin all the duties which he is obliged to practice." (James Gibbons, The Faith of Our Fathers, p. 72)

          "...oral revelation serves as an additional source of revelation alongside the written word” (Robert Sungenis, Not By Scripture Alone, p. 126)

          Since De Maria is not the pope of the Roman Catholic Church, his charge of me making a straw man argument has been refuted.

          "On the contrary, the New Testament records the customs, Traditions and Doctrines that were already in place. Here's a very simple proof. Answer this question and don't ignore it. Was the Doctrine of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ written before or after Christ was resurrected? Answer it, Jesse. Don't ignore it. Because it is obvious from the Gospels, that Jesus Christ taught His Resurrection long before it was ever written down."

          Nobody denies that the New Testament teachings (for example, the resurrection) were originally taught orally, but aspects of the redemptive work of Christ were already prefigured in the Old Testament (Isaiah 53). The Gospel in its entirety has been accurately preserved and recorded into the New Testament documents (1 Corinthians 15:1-8). The problem here is that Roman Catholics are unable to come up with a spiritual standard that judges the validity of "Sacred Tradition," apart from the say-so of the pope, which is circular reasoning.

          "ON the contrary, it is you who is guilty of circular thinking. Your entire process is, "because the bible tells me so." But the Catholic Church goes by the true Bible Teaching. Which is, because we know from Tradition and Scripture (1 Corinthians 11:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:15; 3:6)."

          The charge of Sola Scriptura being circular reasoning is false, and has already been addressed in this article:

          https://rationalchristiandiscernment.blogspot.com/2017/02/is-sola-scriptura-based-on-circular.html

          The ultimate argument offered by the Roman Catholic Church is that we must accept the canon of Scripture because it said so. But how can we even know that the Roman Catholic Church (or its interpretations of Scripture) are infallible (apart from the occupation of circular reasoning)?

          "Because Christ appointed the Catholic Church as the Teacher of His Doctrines...Our Church is infallible because Jesus Christ said so (Matthew 16:18)...."

          In reality, De Maria is simply making a circular argument off the text of Matthew 16:18 by resorting to the Roman Catholic Church's interpretation of that scriptural text. How can we know which oral traditions are of divine inspiration?

        "You are simply ungrateful about the fact that it is from the Catholic Church that you learned all that you know about the Holy Trinity."

          The Council of Nicaea simply submitted itself to the supreme authority of Scripture as it defined the doctrine of the Trinity.

          Why should we bother with submitting to the "Holy See" when there are so many folks like De Maria who invest time into didactically lecturing us on the official Church doctrine? How can he prejudge me as being ungrateful?

          "And of course, your entitled to your opinion. But I have proven that your opinion, is false."

          De Maria's arguments fall short of anything but proof. There is no way for the Papacy to circumvent the charge of circularity in its reasoning processes.

          Karl Keating, in his book titled Catholicism and Fundamentalism, posits that the Roman Catholic Church does not argue in a circular fashion, but instead uses spiral reasoning. But his attempt at rebuttal does not work for the reason that it itself is an instance of begging the question.

           The Roman Catholic Church claims that only it can correctly interpret the Bible. In other words, the Church's interpretations of Scripture are correct because it declares them to be such. How circular that must be, especially when we are not allowed to examine the truthfulness of that particular religious organization's claims for ourselves!

1 comment:

  1. Your responses were excellent. The man is unteachable, as he continues to argue in a circle: "It's thus because Rome says it's thus."

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